Activities of MAP-kinase pathways in normal uroepithelial cells and urothelial carcinoma cell lines

Exp Cell Res. 2003 Jan 1;282(1):48-57. doi: 10.1006/excr.2002.5647.


It is often assumed that MAPK pathways drive proliferation of normal uroepithelial (UEC) and urothelial carcinoma (TCC) cells. To check this assumption, activities and inducibilities of promoters containing serum-response elements (SRE) or AP-1 binding sites were investigated in cultured UEC and seven TCC lines. Reporter plasmids dependent on SRE or AP-1 sites were highly active in UEC, but significantly less so in TCC lines. Reporter activity in TCC lines could be induced by constitutively active MEKK4 or TPA. Accordingly, phosphorylation of the MAPK pathway components MEK, ERK, and ELK1 was most pronounced in UEC and lower in TCC lines. MAPK-dependent promoter activities and bromodeoxyuridine incorporation decreased in UEC upon withdrawal of growth factors, but less so in TCC lines, in which serum diminution increased apoptosis. Likewise, E2F-dependent promoters responded to growth factors in UEC, but were more serum-independent in the TCC lines, which lack either RB1 or p16(INK4A). MEK inhibitors inhibited BrdU incorporation in UEC more strongly than in TCC lines. Thus, proliferation of normal uroepithelial cells is indeed associated with activation of MAPK pathways. However, autonomous proliferation of TCC lines--unexpectedly--appears much less dependent on MAPK activation and may rather be promoted by defects in cell cycle regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites / drug effects
  • Binding Sites / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / enzymology*
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / genetics
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Growth Substances / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / drug effects
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / physiology*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / drug effects
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / metabolism
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / drug effects
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / drug effects
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / genetics
  • Urothelium / enzymology*
  • ets-Domain Protein Elk-1


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • ELK1 protein, human
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Growth Substances
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • ets-Domain Protein Elk-1
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases